A number of little-known suppliers of graphics cards that used to sell their products on various China-based marketplaces are now available in the U.S. from respected retailers like Amazon (opens in new tab) and Newegg (opens in new tab). These add-in-boards (AIBs) are neither too cheap nor too expensive, but they all started to show up in the U.S. around the time when the Ethereum cryptocurrency mining boom went bust.
While everyone knows Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI, very few people know about such brands as 51Risc (opens in new tab), AX Gaming (opens in new tab) (an Inno3D sub-brand), Corn (opens in new tab), Maxsun (opens in new tab), Mllse (opens in new tab), and Peladn (opens in new tab). These companies used to sell their products exclusively on market places like AliExpress or Taobao, targeting customers in the Asia Pacific region as well as desperate enthusiasts willing to buy something exotic like a desktop graphics card based on Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Laptop GPU.
So far, these companies aren’t trying to sell such exotic products in the U.S., and many of their offerings could easily end up in our list of the best graphics cards as they feature configurations recommended by AMD and Nvidia. Graphics cards sold under these trademarks are sometimes cheaper than competing offerings from well-known brands and sometimes they cost more.
For example, 51Risc’s GeForce RTX 3070 is priced at $459 (opens in new tab) at Newegg, which is cheaper than Gigabyte’s Eagle GeForce RTX 3070 that retails for $499 (opens in new tab) and Maxsun’s GeForce RTX 3070 that is priced at $519 (opens in new tab) (and comes bundled with a $20 promo gift card). Meanwhile, the GeForce RTX 3070 graphics cards from Mllse (opens in new tab) and Peladn (opens in new tab) look identical, so although the latter is $20 cheaper; it looks like both boards are made at the same factory, with only the fan stickers to differentiate them.
It’s hard to say for certain why these little-known brands have decided to compete head-to-head against big names at Amazon and Newegg, but one may argue that competition is always good and the more the merrier. That’s assuming the cards are actually fully functional and deliver the expected performance, which isn’t something we’ve been able to test. There’s also the question of warranty support should you encounter problems down the road.
The total available market of discrete graphics cards for desktop PCs is not particularly large: about 38 million units valued at $24.14 billion were sold last year, according to Jon Peddie Research. Yet, there is a cut-throat competition between AIB suppliers.
There are about a dozen big graphics cards makers with well-known trademarks, plus several sub-brands that aim for specific geographies. For example, Palit makes a lot of GPUs for the worldwide market, while it also sells (nearly identical) KFA2 and Galax brands for the European and U.S. markets. Historically, there used to be the so-called no-name brands, but they went extinct as the graphics cards TAM has shrunk from around 85 million units in 2006 to approximately 38 million in 2022.
Nonetheless, there are still small suppliers of graphics cards that may not sell in huge volumes, but which appear to be bold enough to put up a fight against giant companies for the U.S. market. The only question is whether they plan to stay for long, or just sell some boards because they could not sell them elsewhere?